Meredith Parkinson is an ironman triathlete. In other words, she is a total bad*** who is extremely in tune with her body and it’s limits. It’s why, when one of her children accidently kicked her in the breast, the pain she felt made her uneasy. It was worse than normal and after some self checks, she felt a bump in her armpit. She immediately called the doctor. Her advocacy was life saving- she had breast cancer and what proved worse, she started her treatment journey in March of 2020. It meant she was only able to received a bi-lateral mastectomy (a double mastectomy was considered preventive & the hospital shut down any preventive surgeries during COVID). Further challenging, with daycares closed and the world shutting down, Meredith was recovering at home with a 2 & 3 year old and no additional help, given the health risk visitors posed due to the pandemic: “My husband and I were so careful during that time because we were so scared I would get COVID during recovery. It was a really tough time.”
Nonetheless, Meredith felt as if the surgery helped put breast cancer somewhat in her rearview, but in March of 2021 a follow up MRI revealed a chest wall recurrence. She would have two more surgeries and 30 rounds of radiation. Her world would be rocked by breast cancer again when, in February 2022, her sister was diagnosed with Stage 2 HER positive breast cancer. Despite no family history, both women faced the unimaginable. Her sister’s diagnosis meant Meredith had to speed up her timeline for the remaining mastectomy. While she always viewed the surgery as a risk reduction, it now became potentially life saving and in May of 2022, her mastectomy revealed a large amount of abnormal cells. In more ways than one, her sister’s diagnosis proved healing. Not only did it make Meredith’s remaining surgery a priority, but “I was able to be there for her during big treatment moments. I faced my journey completely alone, but I got to be there for her journey to support her.”
Both Meredith and her sister stress the importance of early detection. In fact, a few months prior to her sister’s diagnosis, she had a completely clear mammogram. Only after feeling a lump did she insist doctors run tests. This type of advocacy proves lifesaving and Meredith is proof. She will hit the runway in October to celebrate her journey of grit and perseverance.